Universal acclaim - based on 80 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 80 out of 80
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 80
  3. Negative: 0 out of 80
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  1. Weekly Famitsu
    10 / 10 / 10/ 10 - 40 platinum
  2. 100
    When one picks up the controller, the ability to step into that time and place (never more hauntingly beautiful than in this latest instalment) never loses its allure. Even the most hardened of cynics would have to admit that this title is something else entirely. It's the stuff of dreams. [JPN Import]
  3. 100
    Simply a stunning, magical game.
  4. AceGamez
    It is a gaming legend that is worthy of the name Zelda in every way. The cartoon graphics are the most fluid, gorgeous, lovingly crafted masterpiece I've ever seen in a game, with atmospheric music and realistic sound completing the experience.
  5. The navigation, the combat, the dungeons, the characters, and the peril you must face as that young elf boy in green are all fantastic.
  6. Do not let the visual style put you off, you'll soon warm to it like everybody I've ever seen who's taken one look at the game. However more importantly the gameplay is the definition of perfection.
  7. Game Informer
    Blows every Zelda game out of the water and stands as the video game event of a lifetime. It's an absolute necessity for anyone who considers themselves a gamer. [Apr 2003, p.86]
  8. Nintendo Power
    The Wind Waker defines the five-star rating. The play control and puzzles are stunning. The story is dramatic, funny and often touching and the graphic style is nothing short of amazing. [Apr 2003, p.132]
  9. I felt like a kid playing this game, right alongside Link. I laughed at times; I felt sad at times, I was in shock and amazement. To say this is simply a game is an understatement; it is an adventure. [Import]
  10. Because of the game's subtle tributes to the deeper complexities in life, the game is no less compelling than if I were playing it as a child. The difference is that as an adult, I can herald it as a true work of beauty.
  11. It's only March, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is destined to be the best game of the year on any platform.
  12. For an adventure game with only one story to tell, the amount of replay value the designers squeezed into this game is astonishing, and the time it will take players to unlock all of the delicious secrets it has to offer should add up to more than the time spent on most "replayable" games.
  13. Miyamoto has done it again. The Wind Waker is a definite masterpiece. Link's brand new adventure is as beautiful as it could be and everything's just too good to say it's kiddy.
  14. 100
    As close to perfection as one can get. Wind Waker features some of the greatest graphics to date, an easy and intuitive control scheme, a truly epic storyline and a brilliant score to top it off.
  15. 100
    This is perhaps the greatest ever chapter in the Zelda series. It manages to be absolutely revolutionary and yet still familiar.
  16. Of the 300-plus games I have played, Zelda: Wind Waker ranks in my top three of all time. It's elegant, enchanting, engrossing, beautifully stylized, perfectly polished-a gaming work of art-a masterpiece.
  17. 100
    A brilliant, dazzling wonder, no matter how you feel about Link's new pants... If this game doesn't make you happy, then it's impossible for you to be happy. [Apr 2003, p.94]
  18. Most of the story is conveyed through masterful animation and acute facial expressions.
  19. 100
    Enchanting, entertaining, inventive, elegant, rewarding and captivating from start to "finish."
  20. 100
    Epic in scale, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker oozes quality craftsmanship from start to finish. Most importantly, it's incredibly addictive and almost impossible to put down until the end credits roll.
  21. Play Magazine
    Nothing can prepare you for the greatness that is The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker... Mark my words: there will be no finer gaming experience this year. [Mar 2003, p.24]
  22. 100
    The learning curve is perfect, the gameplay beautifully judged and you'll be inextricably drawn into this gem of an adventure. Easily the best game of the year so far.
  23. GameNow
    The most exciting action-adventure title available on any current system... A masterpiece. [A+; Apr 2003, p.41]
  24. Entertainment Weekly
    The highly stylized characters are brought to life with surprisingly complex facial animations that not only lend them plenty of personality but also make them appear much more alive than the inexpressive mannequins that populate more traditionally "realistic" titles. [2 May 2003, p.78]
  25. 100
    A gaming triumph and a prime example of the reason we play games in the first place. It instilled in me a sense of awe and wonder with a game I honestly haven't felt in the series since A Link to the Past first hit the Super Nintendo.
  26. Probably the biggest strength of the game is the dungeons and your ability just to explore the immense world at hand. The dungeons are magnificently laid out and require a good bit of thought to successfully complete.
  27. 100
    There's quite a bit of value in the title. Tons of subquests, and a second quest after you complete it, but the main run-through is just not as satisfactory as Ocarina's was.
  28. An artistic masterpiece... Anime-styled characters truly do bring out a wide new range of emotions that weren't possible previously in the Zelda series, which better connects the player with a relatively deep storyline. [Import]
  29. The most perfect game Nintendo has released since "Super Mario 64" came out in 1996. It ranks among the very few elite, unforgettable titles, including the original Zelda, "Grand Theft Auto III" and "Final Fantasy VII."
  30. Personally, I expected to be unsatisfied with the cel-shading but was amazed at the textures and detail that is possible with this type of graphics design.
  31. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    "[Expletive], the animation is incredible!" (Mark)... Wind Waker's core gameplay is the best the series has ever had. (Shane)... The world is so perfectly realized that everything just fits. (Gregg) [Apr 2003, p.122]
  32. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is without a doubt the best Legend of Zelda title game ever made, and quite possibly the best video game ever.
  33. It is quite clear that cel-shading has given this game a charm and grace lacking in other games. You would do yourself a grave injustice if you dismissed this game because of the use of cel-shading.
  34. The best part of Zelda games is having an entire world to explore however and whenever you want to. The latest incarnation completely delivers in this area!
  35. The real fun of the Wind Waker is the side quests, extras and the mini-games. While the adventure portion of it is great, I found that playing the side stuff was actually more fun... This game is absolutely huge.
  36. The story is rich, the world is very believable and the gameplay is near flawless. It's been a long time since I played a game this good.
  37. 97
    A work of gaming genius... There's no other game coming out in 2003 that'll touch The Wind Waker.
  38. 97
    A simple tale, high on adventure but amazingly engrossing that really sucked me in. And a lot of humour as well that had me reminiscing my early "Monkey Island" days (I've seen those skulls before!).
  39. If there is such a thing as a perfect game, then this is it.
  40. The Wind Waker is the sum of all Nintendo's talent and skill as a video game maker all blended together in one unforgettable piece of software. Not only does The Wind Waker surpass several other Zelda games ever made, it surpasses just about every other piece of software ever made.
  41. 96
    It's Zelda's unrivaled design, balanced and varied, and its polished play mechanics and control that ultimately set the game apart from just about every other competitor on the market.
  42. By far the biggest fault with WW is that it has to end - see if you don't find yourself putting off the final boss for as long as possible by scouring the ocean for every last chest... An utter delight for both the mind and the senses to wallow in. [Import]
  43. The game does so much right, improving on an excellent formula, adding a bit of its own style, making one of the most original, vibrant, and downright colorful games ever. Just make sure you keep an open mind, and don't let others try to get you to stay away just because it looks like a cartoon; it's not childish, it's character.
  44. The animation is also top-notch. When you watch Link engage in a sword duel, the fluidity of it is remarkable, and unparalleled. There are just so many times where it blew me away.
  45. One of the most well oiled pieces of software to be released, ever. This can stand proud next to the likes of "A Link To The Past" and "Ocarina Of Time." You'll be coming back to it again and again for many years to come.
  46. It's an example of a game that doesn't skimp on deep gameplay in favor of style – instead, it has both and it's already a GameCube classic.
  47. The Wind Waker more than lives up to the Zelda series' legendary heritage... an essential purchase for anyone with a GameCube and a pair of hands.
  48. This is one of the rare occasions I have had a game of nearly flawless quality which sets new standards for both visual appearance and interactivity.
  49. There is a strange depth to Link, a seemingly simple, shallow hero of adventures, which all Zelda fans recognize and fall in love with. That depth has never been more physically apparent in Link, despite the cell-shaded graphics and childish look.
  50. It's undeniably one of the best games ever developed, it looks fantastic and it's in many ways the very essence of video gaming.
  51. Tingle does make the game a touch easier, but at the same time it makes the story aspects of the Wind Waker a great deal more communal, leading to fewer arguments over whose turn it is. It's also the first game we've seen to really justify the cost of the link cable.
  52. Regardless of how you feel about graphics in The Wind Waker, one thing is a definite; adopting a cel-shaded style hasn't harmed the game. In fact it has added to it.
  53. The graphics will grab you and not let go. And the solid gameplay of polygonal Zelda installments still lies lower difficulty, but its here nonetheless. The plot is quite and interesting one, as well.
  54. A future classic. One of the most carefully crafted games I have ever played.
  55. There are literally no flaws and everything is constructed and delivered with beauty and grace.
  56. Excellent graphics and animation can be found in many areas of the game from the heat effect that distorts the camera's vision to the icy cold wind and snow effects that almost make you feel sorry for the camera man who is stood there recording the game!
  57. While some may be a little put off by the late-game item fetching and the game's easy puzzles and boss battles, The Wind Waker is nonetheless a strong achievement in every way, from its stunning graphical presentation to its tight control and interesting story line.
  58. It is an inexcusable fact that "OoT" had almost twice as many dungeons, considering it came out so long ago. The dungeons are the most fun aspect of the game and you will be left wishing for more. Also, with fewer dungeons come fewer bosses.
  59. netjak
    All told, while I was extremely impressed with The Wind Waker, I didn't have a whole lot of fun playing it. In fact, more often than not, it felt like work more than play.
  60. 92
    One of the best games on any current generation console.
  61. While the game has some minor pacing and audio problems, the brave new art style, tightly evolved gameplay and humorous story takes the famous series in a bright, new direction.
  62. One aspect that has been improved upon greatly in Wind Waker is its story.
  63. The shrewdest new aspect of The Wind Waker is its cartoonish graphics. Flawlessly executed, the sweetly surrealistic look evokes classic titles from earlier platforms, sugar-high Saturday-morning tube, and Japanese anime's threatened innocence.
  64. Easily the finest game to grace the GameCube to date.
  65. Wind Waker may copy the previous games a lot, but it's emulating some of the best ever made. As such, singing its praises is like preaching to the choir.
  66. Edge Magazine
    Zelda virgins might well play The Wind Waker and deem it the best game they've ever encountered. To those of us who already have an idea of what to expect, though, it's 'merely' brilliant. [May 2003, p.88]
  67. GMR Magazine
    A beautifuly and highly enjoyable game... Yet it's disappointing in other ways, including the small number of dungeons; overdependence on sailing; easy boss battles; a meaningless, pace-killing treasure hunt; and a less-than-satisfying finale. [Apr 2003, p.58]
  68. The game design and detail is far beyond what other games offer, in fact it puts almost everything to shame.
  69. Though I may not agree that the style they did this game in isn't the best for the series, as everything seems a bit awkward in its non-realism cartoony world. Still, you find little time to complain when you're engaged in its vast world and incredible gameplay.
  70. The style of the graphics however, does not appeal to me, technologically impressive though they are. It's the same way I don't like jazz music, but I know there is good and bad jazz, and that it requires talented musicians to perform it, but the genre of music just doesn't do it for me.
  71. Now, about the sea. This is the biggest pain about The Wind Waker, the sea is flipping huge.
  72. This game is arguably the easiest game in the series.
  73. 90
    The worst aspect though is the story telling, it is watered down to such an extent that I half expected it to start teaching me my a-b-c's.
  74. However, it is not perfect: Most notably, while fans of the original title will surely find this game enjoyable, they will also find it extremely easy to defeat, with unusually light penalties for dying.
  75. Wind Waker's style of play may not be the breath of fresh air players were expecting from the move to GameCube, and the islands seem much too small, but the change in scenery is a nonetheless refreshing one that is sure to surprise players in how well the game works in its current visual style.
  76. Cheat Code Central
    Anime never looked so good. I was not a big fan of the new-Link look myself but once I experienced the entire Zelda world as presented in this game, I can only commend Nintendo for a job well done.
  77. No GameCube owner should miss this game. If you don't own a GameCube, rent one with this game. There are no excuses for not playing it. A new level in 3D adventure games has been set.
  78. With a few more dungeons and a lot less sailing, this is one title that would have definitely deserved to be considered perfect. As is, though, it's a flawed masterpiece.
  79. The visuals in this game are simply stunning, and anyone who ever complained about Nintendo's taking this direction with the title likely shut their mouth promptly upon seeing them it in motion.
  80. An entertaining, albeit unoriginal Zelda title that fails to be revolutionary yet still has the classic gameplay elements that make the series so great.

Awards & Rankings

#1 Most Discussed GameCube Game of 2003
#4 Most Shared GameCube Game of 2003
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 1581 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. JonS
    Jun 24, 2009
    Okay, so maybe it doesn't deserve a perfect score. Sure there's like two bits where i got stuck or kind of bored but the sheer wall Okay, so maybe it doesn't deserve a perfect score. Sure there's like two bits where i got stuck or kind of bored but the sheer wall of content that is enjoyable and intriguing to the very end is just exceptional, if i could 9.8. Full Review »
  2. Dec 18, 2010
    Nintendo have certainly kept their expectations high while creating this game, an amazing story line (as always) and a very well though outNintendo have certainly kept their expectations high while creating this game, an amazing story line (as always) and a very well though out layout (dungeons and the Great Sea). The "Wind Waker" for me, ranks higher than the "Twilight Princess" and "Majora's Mask", and can't wait for the next game to be released ..

    Full Review »
  3. Mac
    Mar 1, 2003
    To everybody complaining about the graphics, would you rather Nintendo do the same boring thing that almost every other comany does of just To everybody complaining about the graphics, would you rather Nintendo do the same boring thing that almost every other comany does of just making their games more life-like? Or would you rather they create them like art, which is what a truly good game is. Zelda has always been cartoony, and that's not just due to graphics restrictions. I'd say that OoT was the exception, not the rule. Full Review »